Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - DRIVE WAY - Iain Curry

THE Camry's re­li­a­bil­ity made it our best-sell­ing mid-sizer for more than two decades

Call it bor­ing, call it pre­dictable or call it a fleet favourite, Toy­ota’s Camry has been Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing mid-sized sedan for more than 20 years for good rea­son.

Camrys have proved re­li­able, good value, suited to fam­ily use and, in hy­brid form, truly ad­vanced and fru­gal. Un­til weeks ago, they were Aus­tralian-made.

The eighth-gen­er­a­tion Camry hits Toy­ota show­rooms in the next few weeks, mean­ing there should be a glut of good value sev­enth-gen Camrys hit­ting the used mar­ket.

We’ll look at the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion from De­cem­ber 2011 to the mid-2015 makeover.

Four grades – Al­tise, Atara S, Atara SX and Atara SL – shared the 2.5-litre and sixspeed auto gear­box, with the Ataras tuned for slightly higher out­puts.

Soon af­ter came the Hy­brid in en­try-level H and highly spec­i­fied HL grades. Prices started at $30,490 for the fleet special Al­tise. Hy­brids started from $34,990 – $2000 cheaper than the pre­de­ces­sor.

The Al­tise was light-on for stan­dard equip­ment. Pos­i­tives were seven airbags, Blue­tooth, USB for iPod con­nec­tiv­ity, au­dio con­trols on the steer­ing wheel wheels.

Far bet­ter equipped, the Atara S was aimed specif­i­cally at pri­vate buy­ers and gained a sports front bumper, fog lights, side skirts, twin ex­hausts, 17-inch wheels and chrome door han­dles.

The Atara SX, the sporty num­ber, had leather-ac­cented in­te­rior, rear lip spoiler and sports sus­pen­sion.

The Atara SL, mean­while, was the luxe ver­sion with leather trim, wood­grain in­serts, JBL au­dio, seven-inch touch­screen, sat­nav, dig­i­tal ra­dio, live traf­fic up­dates, blind spot mon­i­tor, rear park­ing sonar, power front seats and more.

Hy­brids are iden­ti­fied by the blue Toy­ota badge.

The H mod­els had a sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tion to the Atara S, while the flag­ship HL and 16-inch al­loy mainly mir­rored the Atara SL.

In late 2012 a special edi­tion Atara R gave the Al­tise sportier body kit and wheels, while un­der­cut­ting the Atara S on price.

In mid-2014 the Camry RZ landed, again cheaper than an Atara S, but fea­tur­ing moody black body parts and wheels, sport sus­pen­sion, sports body kit and twin ex­hausts.

Ex­tro­vert Camry buy­ers could have their RZs in In­ferno Orange paint.

It wasn’t un­til Novem­ber 2014 that all Camrys gained a rear cam­era as stan­dard with an up­grade to the au­dio and touch­screen.

The Camry is cer­tainly a con­ser­va­tive choice, but for those seek­ing a car that cruises in com­fort, is fuss-free, spa­cious and well screwed to­gether, it’s hard to fault.

The 2012 Toy­ota Camry Atara SX sedan.

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